Temples and temple work hold a prominent place in Mormonism. As it talks about their temples, it often links them with the temple in the Bible. Therefore it is proper to compare the two.
The first comparison deals with whether or not the Lord is present. The LDS manual, True to the Faith, states: “They are holy places of worship where the Lord may visit” (p.170, my emphasis).
The Bible, however, says that the temple was where the Lord dwelt. First in regard to the tabernacle we read: “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.” (Exodus 29:45-56, my emphasis) Then, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon says:” The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. 2 But I have built an house of habitation for thee, and a place for thy dwelling for ever.” (2 Chronicles 6:1-2 my emphasis)
What is even more striking is what the New Testament says. Peter, in his first letter, identifies the temple with the assembly of believers. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). But that’s not all. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor 6: 16-17). In a similar way, Jesus said: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). Not only all believers taken together, but individual believers are the temple of God!
I take away two points from this. The first is that the Bible emphasizes that temples are places where God dwells. Mormonism, however, sees God only visiting the temple. That coincides with its belief that God has a body of flesh and bones and thus can’t dwell in numerous temples at the same time. Thus Mormonism’s main focus in on the work they do in the temple – something I want to address next time.
More importantly, how much more exhilarating and glorious is the New Testament teaching on believers being the temple of God! This becomes even more apparent when we see that the Greek word Paul used in I Corinthians was one used for the holy of holies. We are the holy of holies. In the Old Testament only one man, the high priest, could enter the holy of holies. And he could only do it on one day each year, the Day of Atonement. We, however, because Jesus has removed the sin that separates us from God (signified dramatically with the temple veil being torn at his death) have now become that very temple! The more you think about it, the more thrilling it becomes.
And there are not some believers who are worthy to be temples and some who aren’t. No, all believers are God’s temples. God, in his love, bestows this honor on each and every person who trusts that they are acceptable to God solely because of what Jesus has done for them. To Jesus be ALL praise and glory.